Hollyhocks: A Poem by Audrey Hankins

Hollyhocks and Straw Bales
Hollyhocks and Straw Bales

My dear friend, Audrey Hankins, gave permission for her poem HOLLYHOCKS to be posted on my blog. This is the first poem I remember hearing Audrey recite. When I was photographing Wilbur-Cruce Spanish Barb horses by the Dragoon Mountains here in Arizona, I saw some growing by the stables and thought of Audrey. I plucked one stem and created this photograph just for her. Enjoy her poem! (© Audrey Hankins 2002. Do not print or re-post without permission.)

 Hollyhocks and old ranch wives,

Both thrive on so little care,

Bringing beauty to barren places,

Enduring year after year…..


They’re talkin’ again, the old men,

Reliving their glory days

Cattle they caught, horses they made,

Cowboy pride, cowboy ways.


An old wife moves among them,

Invisible but for coffee pot,

They don’t see her leave, or care that she goes

To smile and tend her hollyhocks.


She shares no glory stories,

Her choice, a supporting role.

Freeing her man to follow his call,

She felt privileged just to fill a hole.


She was the one left holding the gather,

For hours she’d highpoint alone,

‘Til  she often wondered if they’d changed the plan,

Forgotten  her and gone on home.


Ridin’ drag with her little kids,

She ate dust while planning meals.

No good hand could be spared for that,

He wouldn’t remember how it feels.


She did up the jobs left undone

By men with better things to do

Doctored horses, milked the cow,

Ran the kids to school.


She brushed the backs of  her bucket dogies,

The way mother cows lick their calves,

‘Til they glowed and gained on her tender care.

She never nurtured by halves.


Now her waist is thick, her hair is thin,

And her knees are stiff when she walks.

A solitary figure out in the yard, 

Humming and tending her hollyhocks…..

Hollyhocks and old ranch wives,

Both thrive on so little care,

Bringing beauty to barren places,

Enduring year after year.

 Audrey Hankins, 2002

 Gibbs Smith Publisher, 2004, COWBOY POETRY THE REUNION

To see more of Audrey’s work and read about her, visit her page on cowboypoetry.com

About Lori Faith

Lori Faith Merritt of Photography By Faith utilizes the Art of Connection to specialize in equine and cultural images that transcend the ordinary.
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2 Responses to Hollyhocks: A Poem by Audrey Hankins

  1. William says:

    Gorgeous imagery with a poem to match. I love Audrey’s “work” and yours.

  2. Robin says:

    A beautiful poem, probably so full of truth. I am sure we can all relate some when we endure even at a younger age.
    I found you when searching for hollycocks on google.


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